Podcast #7 – The Life of Dr. Harrison Jordan II (1874-1970) – AUDIO
(To play the clip, see media link at beginning of this post, or click here.) Recorded as part of a collection created for the first annual Pickin’ and Ginnin’ Festival, entitled “A Great Place To Call Home.” (Originally compiled by Amelia Grace Jordan)
Memories of Dr. Harrison Jordan II (1874-1970)
The following articles are pulled from multiple years, and give a nice glimpse into the life of Dr. Harrison Jordan. – Luke
Representative Harrison Jordan II, of Richland Parish
Who ‘s Who in Louisiana Politics in 1916, Brief History of the Various Locations of the State Capital of the State of Louisiana. COMPILED BY DAVE H. BROWN EDITED AND PUBLISHED BY THE LOUISIANA CHRONICLE DEMOCRAT COSTE & FRICHTER CO. INC., PRINTERS 1916
Dr. Harrison Jordan, a member of the House from Richland parish, is one of the few members of the medical profession to seek political preferment. He is a native of his district, having been born and reared in Richland parish, with which he is intimately acquainted.
Dr. Jordan’s grandparents came to Louisiana as among the first settlers in Richland and Morehouse parishes and followed the varying fortunes of that agricultural section from their earliest development. His grandfather, Dr. Harrison Jordan, was elected to the House in the fall of 1870, and served a short time in the Legislature, dying while still at work. Warmoth, the carpetbag governor, held the position of chief executive and Oscar Dunn was lieutenant governor….
….The Legislature at that time met in New Orleans. His maternal grandfather, Dr. T. P. Harrison, was a member of the Legislature during the years 1865, 1866, and 1868. He was a member of the Black and Tan constitutional convention of 1868, and was one of those loyal souls who labored to uphold the dignity of his State.
Dr. Jordan attended the public schools of his native community and of New Orleans. At the early age of 15, he was admitted to the Louisiana State University, being among the most youthful members, who have succeeded in passing the required tests. He also attended Tulane University, graduating with the renowned class of 1896, and Sewanee, later securing his degree from the medical department and returning to his native community to begin the practice of medicine.
While in the Louisiana State University he was a classmate of Colonel Ruffin G. Pleasant, and the acquaintance thus created formed a friendship which has endured throughout subsequent years. Through his selection as one of the lawmakers, he is again associated with his former classmate, both of whom hail from North Louisiana.Who ‘s Who in Louisiana Politics in 1916, Brief History of the Various Locations of the State Capital of the State of Louisiana.
Dr. Harris Jordan Announces for Re-Election
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 13 Sep 1919, Sat • Page 9
….Under the proper caption in this week’s issue appears the formal announcement of Dr. Harrison Jordan as a candidate for re-election as Representative of Richland Parish in the next General Assembly, submitting his nomination for the office to the will of the Democratic primary election to be held January 20th, 1919.
Dr. Jordan represented Richland in the Lower House of the General, Assembly, and was faithful to the trust and exercising his vote as he deemed best for his constituents and his state. Dr. Jordan was one among a few members of the House to oppose the bill creating the present Board of State Affairs, and is still firmly convinced since 3 years of operation of the law that it is still a bad one on the statute books, and should be repealed.
He desires us to state that most emphatically he is in support of the Agricultural school at the Louisiana State University; and this improving of the condition which forced the resignation of Dr. W. R. Dodson, the Dean of the Department. He will also support legislation that will improve the laws relative to good roads and better schools regarding these as the two main factors in the upbuilding of the country. It is probable that Dr. Jordan will see you in person, as he proposes to as thorough a canvass as time will permit. In the meantime, he takes this means to solicit your support.The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 13 Sep 1919, Sat • Page 9
A Visit With Dr. Harrison Jordan II, By The Boeuf with Beth
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. Saturday, September 14, 1968
….North of Rayville off River Road, a long lane meanders through cotton fields and wooded places to Boeuf River and Trio Plantation. The morning sun was high and hot the day we visited Trio. But the sprawling grove of tall cedar trees lent an air of quiet coolness to the place and the big house that stood in their midst. From a distance I could see Dr. Harrison Jordan standing beside the brick side entrance, waiting to greet us.
We were seated on the side gallery and served refreshing cold Cokes. Relaxing in a rocker, I leaned back and looked out over the yard. The cedar trees fascinated me with their high, bare trunks and tops that bushed out in odd shapes and sizes.
“I’ve never seen so many cedar trees any place on the river as you have here,” I said.
“Those trees were brought here by the first Dr. Harrison Jordan from Madison County, Miss., back in 1842,” Dr. Jordan said. “That avenue of cedars planted out front there, was to lead up to a mansion he’d planned to build here.”
“Tell me,” I asked, “how did Trio get its name?”
“Well, it got its name from the three original owners. That was Dr. Harrison Jordan I and his children Dr. William Thomas Jordan and Fanny Jordan Gillespie.”
“How’d he happen to settle here?”
“A good friend and former neighbor, Mr. Charles Rawlins Balfour, had come over here and settled on Boeuf River. He wrote to my grandfather and said, ‘sell that worn-out hill land and come to the swamp’.”
When Dr. Jordan began his story of Trio, I pulled out, a pad and pencil to make notes. As I wrote, I roamed, about in my imagination on a dreamy journey into the past.
It was in 1841 that Dr. Harrison Jordan took his friend’s advice and came to Boeuf River country. His first purchase was the Pugh place located between the Scott and Stewart places on the river. In 1842 and ’43 he returned and bought tracts of land from Haddox, Cooper, Thomas Young, James Pugh, William Weed, and some were patented from the U. S. Government.
With this vast acreage of some 2,145 acres, Trio Plantation was established. The Madison County plantation community was moved to Trio and Dr. Jordan, with his wife, Abigail Owens Jordan, moved into Jackson, Miss. A Mr. Daughtery was Trio Plantation overseer.
Prior to the Civil War, Dr. Harrison Jordan made periodic trips here from Jackson. The house he shared with the overseer rests on a wooded ridge today.
“The place was a regular village,” Dr. Jordan said, “with a store, gin, sawmill, Negro school, Negro cemetery – all right here.”
The people were plagued with “swamp fever.” Many new settlers packed up and moved on to the hills in Louisiana. Many died from the disease. Bears, deer and panthers roamed the forests and cane breaks.
“People were afraid of the panthers,” Dr. Jordan said. “The Negroes carried burning torches to frighten them along the way when they went visiting.
“When was this house built?” I asked.
“This house wasn’t begun until after the Civil War,” Dr. Jordan said.
“That’s when my father Dr. William Thomas Jordan married Miss Frances Elizabeth Harrison from Mounds Plantation in Oak Ridge. She was governess for the Balfour family across the river. My father was among the first Mississippi volunteers and served as a doctor all through the war.”
In 1869 the house was begun and it was finished in 1870, using materials from the property. The House that the first Dr. Jordan had started for his son and wife to live on after marriage, was built of cypress throughout with the exception of a little red gum and poplar used for sleepers in the foundation. This couple had a family of three children -Harrison, Virginia and Francis Victor Jordans in our parish today are descendants of this illustrious family children of “Miss Jennie” and the late Dr. Francis V. Jordan.
“I’ll show you the house,” Dr. Jordan offered.
So we left the gallery and entered the adjoining room. Beside the fireplace, I inspected rustic hinges on the closet door.
“They were made by a slave, Jerry Myers,” he said.
Double doors swing into a wide hall that leads to the front gallery. We went outside and I took a picture from the avenue of cedars. The large, one-story house built in the style of its era, has six tall white columns across the front. Today they add a touch of elegance to the weather-beaten house. Back inside, we entered the old parlor, where the first Dr. Harrison Jordan looked out from an oil painting that hangs over the mantel. Pieces of cherished furniture are here.
Dr. Jordan opened a small, red velvet box on the table and sorted out photographs – pictures of family and friends. He called out their names as if he’d seen them only yesterday. From another box, he pulled out old account books used in the plantation store. And we’re fascinated with the popular items and prices of the 1860’s and 1870’s. We roamed about the bedrooms, dwarfed by high ceilings and tall tester beds. We returned to the room off the hall that Dr. Jordan said his mother used for the dining room. It has galleries of each side with another from a room to the rear. Outside on a separate building north of the dining room was the kitchen. On the porch, I spied the old plantation bell resting on a flat rubber tire.
Filled with nostalgia I could almost hear it’s melancholy “ding-dong” echoing over the place. Inside we saw where the large fireplace once extended far into the kitchen. Two other rooms in the building served as quarters for the cook and a house servant. Out in the yard, we climbed into Dr. Jordan’s green Ford and he took us on a tour of the places that use-to-be. As we bounced along he pointed here and there.
“That was the old smokehouse, there’s where the carriage house stood. That big hole yonder is where clay was dug to make bricks. The kiln sat under those gum and sycamore trees.”
Farther on we passed a clump of trees and brush, “that’s where the kiln stood, and over there they saw the mill.”
I got out and walked beside the long, black boiler and the mill flywheel that’s at least seven feet high and a foot wide. The wheel leaned against a tree while a piece of machinery has cut into its trunk. Beautiful Christmas-tree shaped cedars are growing along the river bank and border the woods on all sides. There are many sizes, all seedlings from the original trees that are now over 120 years old. Back in the car, Dr. Jordan drove on along the river bank.
“That was the cotton landing,” he said pointing to a high place.
Ahead was a restful view of a grass-covered lane, once the river road. All trees border the lane and down near the Boeuf, Dr. Jordan pointed out three cypress trees, calling out the names of the original plantation owners that his mother had given them.
“My mother used to come down here and ask the “snag boat” captains not to destroy these trees,” he said.
When I asked about “snag boats,” he laughingly replied, “Everybody who ran for Congress was going to clean out Boeuf River.”
Dr. Jordan had previously told me about two landings on Trio, one for freight and one for cotton. And he could remember when three steamboats came up the river in a week. The Era No. 10 with Captain James Hamilton had been his favorite.
Today I asked him, “What is a happy childhood memory you have of steamboat days?”
“Sitting at Captain Hamilton’s table eating steak!” he replied gleefully.
This was on trips he’d made up the Boeuf on the Era No. 10 to Eason’s Warehouse on Lake Lafourche and visit relatives at Mounds Plantation. Then another happy memory was a present from New Orleans that Captain Tom Parker brought him on the steamboat Tom Parker. It was a hobbie horse and naturally, he named it — Tom Parker.
When the car stopped we were at the old ferry crossing where you took the road on to Morehouse Parish. I got out and walked to the calm water’s edge. Down the bank, a flock of white geese preened, then shoved off into the shallow water. Farther down a black cow had waded in belly-deep and stood in the shade of a willow tree. I felt the urge to linger and dream. Back at the house we switched to my car and bid adieu to Dr. Jordan.
Driving down the lane, I had a feeling of deep gratitude to Dr. Jordan for sharing with me his cherished memories of Trio Plantation.
Note: The Era No. 10 was said to have had the biggest whistle of all the steamboats. The Captains of the Riverboats on the Mississippi were told to have said, “Here’s comes a big whistle with a little boat.”The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. Saturday, September 14, 1968
Memories of Dr. Harrison Jordan II (1874-1970), ca., 1969 Bio Sketch
Dr. Harrison Jordan is a bona fide resident of Richland Parish. He was born on Trio Plantation in 1874, six years after the creation of Richland Parish, in 1868. There is not much difference in the ages of both. He was named for his grandfather on his father’s side, Dr. Harrison Jordan, who established Trio Plantation in 1841, and for the Harrisons, his mother’s family.
Both grandparents were from Mississippi, moving to Louisiana only a few years apart.
Dr. Jordan remembers well the steamboat days on Boeuf River and has seen as many as three boats a week pass his home. He remembers even the names of these boats: The Tom Parker, Stella Black and Era No. 10. They would land at the plantation and load cotton to be shipped to New Orleans. Ice and bananas purchased from these boats gave him, his brother Francis Victor, and sister Virginia, their greatest treats. He is nostalgic over these wonderful steamboats, and trips he took on them.
They added romance to country life. After the steamboat era, he remembers the rise in importance of the railroads. He recalls that the V.S.&P. ran six passenger trains through Rayville in one day, and that the N.O. and N. Western ran four passenger trains daily. Now, all that has passed, except for the freight trains. He believes there are more freights today than in earlier days, but their length was the same. They were pulled by one steam engine usually, but on occasion, a doubleheader.
Now the vans and truck lines are superseding the freight train. Dr. Jordan remarked that the modem way of life has far exceeded the primitive way of life when he was a boy. In his childhood, the only ways of making a living were by farming and merchandising, The farmer got something like eight cents for his cotton crop and the merchant did mostly credit business. It was a humdrum life for both of them, trying to make enough by which to sustain. The old saying “It took 13 months in a year to make and gather a cotton crop” was more truth than poetry.
In Dr. Jordan’s childhood, Rayville boasted of four or five stores and two saloons. The residential section started where Glover Hardware is now located on the southside, and on the northside…
He remembers when the old Brick Courthouse was built and when the brick store that belongs to Mr. Eddins was constructed. There were two hotels and a drug store during most of the time of his childhood. He has visited Rayville in a mule-drawn wagon, in surrey, in a boat, on horseback and by automobile. He also recollects driving to town in a closed carriage made in Paris, France, that his grandmother gave his mother as a wedding present. His father, Dr. W. T. Jordan (1834-1883), bought two large mules to pull this carriage. He was delighted with the luxurious upholstery and glass windows. The driver sat up on the outside, coach style. One of the carriage lanterns that belonged on this vehicle is now on the patio of the home of his niece, Mrs. Virginia Mangham, who lives on Trio Plantation.
There were very few neighbors at that time, for much of Richland Parish was yet to be settled. Playmates whom he remembers are Charlie Morgan, Buddy Johnson, and Willie and Jesse McCoy. Charlie Morgan and Buddy Johnson lived to manhood and old age and were always loyal friends, supporting him when he ran for public office. Jessie lived to the age of manhood and married when a young man. Miss Sadie McCoy also visited his family and was attentive to his, mother. Miss Birdie Justice, another friend of his mother, took care of his sister and him when his mother was called to the sickbed of his father in Monroe. He had become ill on a steamboat returning from New Orleans. She took her youngest child, Francis, and two trusted servants with her. Miss Justice and Mr. Harry married at Trio, and Dr. Jordan’s mother gave them their wedding. Later, she gave Mr. Miles Kelly and Miss Mary Cravens a wedding also.
Mr. Kelly, a kind and good man managed the plantation for her after the death of Dr. W.T. Jordan in 1884, and Miss Cravens was governess for the Jordan children at the time. Mr. Kelly’s nephew, Joe Simms, lived across the river at what was known, as the Balfour house. After Mr. Kellys’ management of Trio, Mr. Robert Miller took his place. He let Dr. Jordan be his constant companion, even to parties in town. Dr. Jordan remembers vividly that he treated him as a man, giving him a 45-Colt revolver which had been given to him by Mr. Kelly when he was a small boy. He carried it until being discovered by his mother who instantly disarmed him. This ended his childhood days because be left for New Orleans to attend school at the age of 13.Excerpt taken from the Richland Beacon-News centennial edition which was published Jan. 11, 1969.
Dr. Harris Jordan II, Celebrates 90th Birthday, ca., 1964
Richland Beacon News, ca., 1964
Obituary for Dr. Harrison Jordan II (1874-1970)
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. Sat, May 16, 1970 · Page 1
When Dr. Harrison Jordan passed away Tuesday afternoon, May 12, after having lived a full, rich ninety-six years, Richland Parish lost one of its best-loved and most outstanding citizens. It was indeed fitting that Dr. Jordan had just recently moved back to Trio Plantation, his ancestral home that was so dear to his heart and where he was born on March 22, 1874. There he was tended lovingly and tirelessly by his great-nephew, Francis Victor Jordan, and his wife Mary Sue, who also lived at Trio with “Uncle.”
A lifelong resident of Richland Parish, Dr. Jordan graduated from Tulane University of New Orleans and received his medical degree from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. He married Miss Elizabeth Hall of Minneola, Texas, who preceded him in death in December of 1929. They had no children, but Dr. Jordan is survived by his brother’s four children who were as dear to him as if they had been his own. His nieces are Mrs. J. M. Shamblin and Mrs. Hervey Mangham. Nephews are John T. Jordan and Harrison Jordan. Funeral services for Dr. Jordan were held at 4:00 p .m. Wednesday, May 13, In the Church of the Redeemer at Oak Ridge with Fr. W. E. Baldridge officiating. Mulhearn Funeral Home of Rayville was in charge of arrangements.
Active pallbearers were W. O. Chapman, Richard Rowan, Claude Morgan, W. L. Calhoun, Sr., Lasley Downes, Hugh Balfour, Edwards Barham and Tommy Barham. Honorary pallbearers were Henry Stevenson, Dr. Thomas M. Sayre, Dr. Collins Hubbard, Colonel Charlie Eby, Bill Beach, Admiral E. A. Barham, H. Flood Madison, Bowden Folse, Joe Mott, Jr., Leland Loughridge, Warren Hunt, James Hurley and Dennis Mann.
Dr. Jordan was a member of the American Medical Association and used his medical knowledge in service to his fellow man, serving as director of the Richland Parish Health Department from 1941 to 1946. But his first loves were politics, people and farming. He was elected to the Louisiana Legislature in 1916 and served as Representative of Richland Parish for sixteen consecutive years. The parish never had a more selfless, dedicated public servant. His honesty and integrity were unquestioned, and he worked tirelessly for the benefit of his constituents. His spotless record was one to be emulated by all who followed after him. Dr. Jordan loved the land and attended actively to his vast farming interests almost to the very last.
Dr. Jordan loved people, and he reaped what he sowed, the respect and affection of a host of friends and admirers. He was blessed with a phenomenal memory and a keen mind that was alert and active as long as he lived. He was a student of history and continued his lively interest in affairs of the nation, the state, and the parish. His mind was a veritable storehouse of information with regard to local history, which he shared generously with all who sought his advice and assistance.
Many a friend or acquaintance, many a schoolchild, has enjoyed his accurate and amusing anecdotes about the early days of Richland and Morehouse Parishes. The passing of this kindly and illustrious citizen, a true Southern Gentleman in the finest sense of the word, has left a void that can never be filled. But the community is richer for his having lived.The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. Sat, May 16, 1970 · Page 1
Categories: 1840's, 1870's, 1910's, 1920's, 1970's, Ag, Farming, and Timber History, Bio Sketches, Boeuf River, GENERAL TOPICS, Girard, Little Lake Lafourche, Obituaries, Old News Clips, Oral Interviews, Podcasts, Railroad History, Rayville, Richland Pioneers, State Representatives, Steamboat Travel